Dragon Ball Z Kai has arrived on Blu-ray (and DVD). I started watching Dragon Ball Z probably back in 1997 when it aired on Cartoon Network. I wasn't fully committed to the show but I enjoyed it. The biggest problem I had was keeping up with the five days a week schedule. Sure I could've video taped it (remember, this was in 97, the age of VCRs) but I figured if I didn't have the time to watch it when it aired, I wouldn't have time to catch up later.
What is the difference between Dragon Bal Z and Dragon Ball Z Kai (in case you don't already know)? Basically this is the revised version (and remastered). This is the way creator Akira Toriyama originally intended the series to be. Dragon Ball Z's 291 episodes are being trimmed down and condensed to 100. Seems like quite a difference but after watching this first volume, the first 13 episodes, it does seem that less is better.
The action is clearly more intense with less drawn out scenes and situations. Some of the episodes I remember watching back in 97 were some of the regular versions of these first few episodes. I remember when (Spoiler Alert) Goku died and was making his way back. He kept running down that path to visit King Kai. I'd miss a couple episodes and it seemed he was still running along that damn path.
Being the casual fan that I am, I only have the first six volumes of the Dragon Ball Z manga (actually it's the cool "three-in-one Viz editions). As I watched these 13 episodes over this past week, I actually followed along with the manga. The show is pretty much identical to the manga. That shows that DBZ Kai is closer to Toriyama's original vision.
Gregory in the show (although Bubbles is still with King Kai, of course).
I've always wanted to watch the entire Dragon Ball Z series but the idea of watching nearly 300 episodes has always put me off. I hate to say that I just didn't have the time to commit to all those episodes and we know the past DVD releases weren't exactly cheap. The idea of 100 feels a lot more manageable.
How was the Blu-ray? I've mentioned that the show's pacing is where it should be. The animation and colors are crisp and clear. It almost looks like the entire series was re-animated. I'm a HD junkie and watching the episodes on Blu-ray was a real treat. The only downside I have is I now have to wait until September 14, 2010 for the second volume of Dragon Ball Z Kai and it does end in a bit of a cliffhanger.
How's this volume rate? The thirteen episodes are good but this volume has a suggested retail price of $54.98. While that is 325 minutes, it still feels like a lot to pay for. But obviously you'll be able to find it cheaper online (I saw it for $34.99 on one site). There also aren't really any extras, not that you'd be buying this for them. You get textless versions of the opening and closing songs. So if you didn't get enough of either during the thirteen episodes, you can watch them without all the credits obscuring the animation. You get some trailers as well but trailers are trailers. I would give this a solid 4 out of 5. I may not be the biggest Dragon Ball Z fan but it was fun and this new pacing really works. If you've watched the original Dragon Ball Z or haven't seen these episodes yet, it's worth checking out.